I’ve been going through my mother’s old recipe box. Remember those? Most of our mothers and grandmothers had them–a green metal box that held index-sized recipe cards, with alphabet tabs. Recipes used to be passed around among friends and family, so many of the cards had titles like “Marie’s Breakfast Casserole” or “Tillie’s Cheese Dip.”
So this little, plain green box suddenly becomes a memory box. Out pour my aunts, my grandmother, my mother’s friends and neighbors. There were recipes for things I hadn’t eaten in years, but with them came the recollection, not only of the food, but of the occasion. Oh, that cheese dip we always had at my parent’s New Year’s Day open house. Oh, we always had that seafood gumbo for my dad’s birthday…
(There were an astounding number of dip recipes, by the way. My parents’ generation must have partied more than we do.)
Many of the cards were typed–my mother was a very good typist. Later ones were handwritten, some just scrawled notes as Mom’s handwriting deteriorated.
I’ve been thinking a good deal about our loss of physical references. Letters, diaries, recipes, things that are passed on and that give us a sense of connectedness with not only friends and families but with previous generations. If my mother kept a recipe box, I clipped recipes from newspapers and magazines and stuck them in a much less organized ring binder. But they are there, if you sort through them; a catalog of the stages of my life.
Now, I no longer take the daily paper, and the thing I miss most is the Wednesday food section. I don’t have time to read cooking magazines. I look up recipes on the Internet. My daughter and I email each other recipe links. I bookmark the ones I like in my browser. Convenient, yes, but somehow not the same. I suspect this is a generational lament, and that perhaps my daughter will never look nostalgically through my ragged collection of recipes.
My bonus prize, other than some lovely memories, for looking through my mother’s box was finding my own cranberry relish recipe. I’d mentioned this a few weeks ago on Facebook and several people commented that they’d like to have the recipe. It was clipped, eons ago, from Gourmet Magazine (in my previous life when I used to actually COOK things from Gourmet Magazine…) but I’d lost the recipe and had been making it from memory for years. I wasn’t sure I trusted my recollection enough to write down the proportions for someone else.
But there it was, on a battered card, typed on my mother’s typewriter. And so I’ll pass it on to you, to keep in whatever form you prefer.
Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!
SPICY CRANBERRY RELISH
(I double the recipe. It keeps really well in the fridge, and is great with all sorts of things, especially on leftover turkey and ham sandwiches.)
1 12 oz package fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
1 small fresh jalepeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine (wear rubber gloves)
Rind of one orange, julienned
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp salt
In a stainless saucepan, combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cranberries begin to pop. Let cool and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
(Confession–I eat it right out of the pan.)